Bud Cowsill grinned, and his tanned face crowned with white hair produced “Laughter’s wrinkles.”
“We’re actually a traveling commune posing as a family,” he said.
He was speaking of his family – seven children and his lovely wife, Barbara – The Cowsills. Bud is 44, his wife is 42, and his children range from 23 to 11. During a brief interview at the Holiday Inn, all made their presence known. They seem a happy family and show mutual respect, praise and do a lot of kidding.
In other words, they all get along with each other.
The Cowsills are in La Crosse for an 8:30 p.m. concert Thursday in Mary E. Sawyer Auditorium and they promise a good one. Rock, folk and country western are all part of their performance.
John, 14, is the country and western buff in the family. Barry likes folk music, and meant it when he said Mom was his favorite singer.
“She’s really got a nice voice,” he said.
“Bob (32), wow – he’s a nice person. He’s the musical genius in the family,” said 15-year-old Barry.
Bob, a newlywed, walked into the room and immediately joined in the friendly conversation. The room was filled with the sound of Bob’s guitar picking, chattering family members, and Mom doing a quick ironing job on the bed.
The shaggy-haired boys, their only sister, Susan (11), Mom and Dad, and Dick Korn, the “resident hippie” and road manager, are on summer tour of the country. Their last stop was Newport, R.I., and after Thursday’s concert, they’ll be headed for St. Paul, for the state fair. They used to fly, but this summer they’ve been driving.
“We’re helping the inflation bit,” said Bud.
Bob, who celebrated his 21th birthday two days ago, described the group as “self-contained.” They play guitars and drums, and needless to say, provide some darn good vocal music, too.
When not on tour, they practice three hours a day. But during the summer, “Every day is a practice,” said Barbara. In the winter months they play campuses on weekends and attend school in Hollywood, Calif., during the week.
While traveling together might be a bit hectic, it’s made the family much closer, the Cowsills said. Barbara said she’s gotten to know her children much better since traveling.
“You tell ‘em Mom,” said John.
And during their quieter moments, the family members do “the normal things in life,” like golfing.
Round table discussions aren’t infrequent in the Cowsill family and Bud said they discuss their guidelines together. Problems are handling by showing “a little respect for one another, basically,” said Bud.
As the group posed for pictures, the chattering quieted and someone started to hum. Another, and another, and soon all had joined in. Even when they’re “just foolin’ around,” they sound good. And that’s without electronic equipment.
Bud checked his watch, and when informed he forgot to turn it back an hour, he said: “But I’m going back to the same place, and I don’t like to wear out the mechanism.”
When discussing their next performance date, Dick had a little mixup on the day. “We’ve never been late yet,” he said. And it’s amazing The Cowsills don’t seem to live on time, but on fun.
“We don’t have professions – just hobbies,” said Bud. With a quick glance at Korn, he took the opportunity for a jibe. “Our latest hobby is renovating old hippies.”
The Cowsills would appear a glamorous family, but after only a few minutes with them, one can see that the glamour hasn’t affected their relationships with each other. If anything, it’s made them closer, more fun-loving and above all, honest.